Lombard-Tuscan man-at-arms from c. 1100,Vita Mathildis
As in the first crusade, the pilgrims and soldiers did not leave as a part of one large army, but rather in several groups from various different regions from across Western Europe. In September 1100, a large group of Lombards left from Milan. These were mostly untrained peasants, led by Anselm IV, Archbishop of Milan. When they reached the territory of the Byzantine Empire, they pillaged it recklessly, and Byzantine emperor Alexios I escorted them to a camp outside Constantinople. This did not satisfy them, and they made their way inside the city where they pillaged the Blachernae palace, even killing Alexios' pet lion. The Lombards were quickly ferried across the Bosporus and made their camp at Nicomedia, to wait for reinforcements.
At Nicomedia they were joined in May 1101 by a smaller but stronger contingent of French, Burgundians, and Germans, under Stephen of Blois, Stephen I, Count of Burgundy, Eudes I, Duke of Burgundy, and Conrad, constable of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor. Joining them at Nicomedia was Raymond IV of Toulouse, one of the leaders of the First Crusade who was now in the service of the emperor. He was appointed overall leader, and a Byzantine force of Pecheneg mercenaries was sent out with them under the command of General Tzitas.
This group marched out at the end of May, towards Dorylaeum, following the route taken by Raymond and Stephen in 1097 during the First Crusade. They planned to continue towards Konya, but the Lombards, whose rabble outnumbered all the other contingents, were determined to march north to Niksar where Bohemond I of Antioch was being held captive by the Danishmends. After capturing Ancyra on June 23, 1101, and returning it to Alexios, the crusaders turned north. They briefly besieged the heavily garrisoned city of Gangra, and then continued north to attempt to capture the Turkish-controlled city of Kastamonu. However, they came under attack from the Seljuq Turks who harassed them for weeks, and a foraging party was destroyed in July.
At this point, under the threats of the Lombards, the entire army turned away from the possible safety of the Black Sea coast and again moved east, toward Danishmend territory and the rescue of Bohemond. However, the Seljuqs, under Kilij Arslan I, realizing that disunity was the cause of their inability to stop the First Crusade, had now allied with both the Danishmends and Ridwan of Aleppo. In early August the crusaders met this combined Muslim army at Mersivan.
Battle of Mersivan
The crusaders organized into five divisions: the Burgundians, Raymond and the Byzantines, the Germans, the French, and the Lombards. The Turks nearly destroyed the crusaders’ army near the mountains of Paphlagonia at Mersivan. The land was well-suited to the Turks—dry and inhospitable for their enemy, it was open, with plenty of space for their cavalry units. The Turks had been troublesome to the Latins for some days, at last making certain that they went where Kilij Arslan I wanted them to be and making sure that they only found a small amount of supplies.
The battle took place over several days. On the first day, the Turks cut off the crusading armies’ advances and surrounded them. The next day, Duke Conrad led his Germans in a raid that failed miserably. Not only did they fail to open the Turkish lines, they were unable to return to the main crusader army and had to take refuge in a nearby stronghold. This meant that they were cut off from supplies, aid, and communication for an attack that may have taken place had the Germans been able to provide their own military strength.
The third day was somewhat quiet, with little or no serious fighting taking place, but on the fourth day, the crusaders made an intensive effort to free themselves from the trap that they were in. The crusaders inflicted heavy losses on the Turks, but the attack was a failure by the end of the day. Kilij Arslan was joined by Ridwan of Aleppo and other powerful Danishmend princes.
The Lombards, in the vanguard, were defeated, the Pechenegs deserted, and the French and Germans were also forced to fall back. Raymond was trapped on a rock and was rescued by Stephen and Conrad. The battle continued into the next day, when the crusader camp was captured and the knights fled, leaving women, children, and priests behind to be killed or enslaved. Most of the Lombards, who had no horses, were soon found and killed or enslaved by the Turks. Raymond, Stephen of Blois, and Stephen of Burgundy fled north to Sinope, and returned to Constantinople by ship.